SYRIA: Salesian missionaries constructing new youth center, church and vocational training center in the district of Jaramana
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries working in Syria are starting construction projects to open programs for youth and their families in the remote district of Jaramana, which is located an hour away from the current Salesian youth center in Damascus. Many families, even during the most dangerous heights of the war, traveled by bus to attend programs in Damascus. Now, Salesian missionaries are launching new programs locally.
Despite ongoing conflict and instability, Salesian missionaries and nuns have continued their work with youth in Syria. Since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, Salesian missionaries have operated three centers in Kafroun and the particularly high conflict areas of Aleppo and Damascus. Opened well before the start of the war, the centers have been providing educational classes, meeting space, and social development and sporting activities for youth and their families. They also offer trauma counseling, emergency shelter, nutritious meals and medical referrals to those in need.
For years, bullets and the blast of bombs have marred Jaramana. The war destroyed this part of the city and its traces are visible. Most of the youth who participate in the activities at the Salesian Youth Center in Damascus come from this area. Now that the war seems to have calmed down, Salesian missionaries are constructing a new youth center, a church and a vocational training center.
The Salesians are working to hold activities for youth as close as possible to these remote and needy populations. At the height of the war, families with young children and older youth alone would get on the buses, in the middle of the bombings, and run a terrible risk to get to Salesian programs.
“On many occasions, we had to suspend the bus lines. We had to communicate with the educators and then to inform the families,” said Father Alejandro León, superior of the Salesian Province of the Middle East. “The objective of the Salesians is to move to this area, which has a Muslim majority, so that youth have programs in these difficult times.”
Fr León also noted a great lesson he received from some of the children in this district. He recalled, “One day when, due to the bombing, we suspended the route of the buses that took the kids to the youth center. I saw that at two o’clock in the afternoon an educator and several children from that neighborhood showed up at Mass. They had walked in the middle of the bombardments for more than two hours. At the end of the Mass, I told them that I was very angry because they had disobeyed and had put their lives in jeopardy. The educator, very serene, gave me a lesson in theology and faith at the same time when he asked me who I was to forbid them from going to Mass on Sunday.”
Now, with the help of many benefactors, the new Salesian youth center, church and vocational training center will be established to educate and support thousands of young Syrians affected by the war.
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Salesian Missions – Syria
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